Jolly Dictionary

The Jolly Phonics Grammar Programme covers many aspects in the teaching of English, such as spelling, word meanings, punctuation, parts of speech, alphabetical order and dictionary work.


It was felt that the children should learn early on in their education to use a dictionary, so that it was second nature to them by the time they progressed to their secondary education. This meant producing a dictionary that was colourful and suitable for young children, and here it is. There is the usual contents page and then, for the adults teaching the children, the first pages explain all about the dictionary and how to use it. After that there are picture pages for younger children showing them how to spell useful words, such as numbers, months, days of the week and words linked to topics.


Then the real dictionary starts. In order to help the children learn the alphabetical order we split it roughly into four quarterly groups ‘a-e’, ‘f-m’, ‘n-s’ and ‘t-z’. Each group has a colour, so if a child wanted to look up a word that started with a <g>, he or she would know, or see from the front here, that it is in the yellow section so he or she would start looking in that section. The child would know it is one of the early letters in that group and could open the book at roughly the right place.


During the first year of the grammar programme the children are taught, step-by-step, how to look up words in the dictionary. For example, if the children were asked to look up the word ‘mistake’ they should know that the letter <m> is at the end of the yellow section (finding the word is demonstrated). There are many fun activities during the year for developing the skill.


When children can find words in a dictionary they can see how to spell the word correctly and also what it means (demonstrated). They can also see how the word is pronounced, by using the Jolly pronunciation code (demonstrated). When we say the word ‘mistake’ the stress is on the /stai/, which is printed in bold letters. They can also see that the word could be a noun, a verb or an adjective and even that the verb has an irregular past.


Being able to look up things that are in alphabetical order is a very useful skill. Young children thoroughly enjoy looking at dictionaries and learning how to use them.